Wendy Appelbaum, a powerhouse in South African business and philanthropy, stands as one of the country’s wealthiest women. Her impact on Liberty Group, where she is a steadfast shareholder, cements her status among Africa’s most influential women.
Born into the legacy of Liberty Life founder Donald Gordon, Appelbaum’s role at Liberty Investors, the holding entity of Liberty Group, has been crucial. Despite corporate transformations, she retained shares, witnessing the evolution from Liberty International to Capital Shopping Centres Group and later to Intu in 2013.
In 1994, Wendy ventured into business with Wiphold, an investment company empowering women from all walks of life. Co-founded with ten other women, Wiphold became the first female-controlled company to list on the JSE.
Reflecting on her time there, Wendy describes it as “one of the most wonderful experiences of my life,” emphasizing the empowerment of disadvantaged women in the realm of finance. As a philanthropist, Wendy, through The Wendy Appelbaum Foundation, supports initiatives addressing health and education concerns for South African women.
With an estimated fortune of $200 million in 2015, Wendy’s influence extends to her memberships at Harvard University’s Women’s Leadership Board, the International Women’s Forum, and her board position at Synergos Africa. She also chairs De Morgenzon Estate, a prominent wine farm in Stellenbosch.
Appelbaum’s diverse portfolio reflects not only her astute business acumen but also her unwavering commitment to empowering women, promoting healthcare, and contributing to the broader community. Through her visionary leadership and philanthropy, she continues to shape South Africa’s economic and social landscape.
Billionaires.Africa spotlights five companies owned by Appelbaum, highlighting her pivotal role as a major player in the South African industry:
- Liberty Group
Liberty Holdings Limited, a prominent financial services and property holding company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, specializes in insurance and asset management. Established in 1957, it boasts a rich legacy. Appelbaum, a former director and major shareholder at Liberty Group Investors, played a pivotal role in the company’s success during her tenure.
In 1994, Appelbaum co-founded Wiphold, an investment company that pioneered empowerment for women from diverse backgrounds. Making history as the first women-controlled company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Wiphold empowered women across various spheres under Wendy’s leadership.
- Wendy Appelbaum Institute for Women’s Health
Founded in 2011 by Appelbaum, this transformative institute is dedicated to advancing comprehensive healthcare for women in South Africa. The institute focuses on providing tailored and exceptional medical care to address the unique health needs of women, empowering them to lead healthier lives.
- De Morgenzon Wine Estate
Established in 2003, De Morgenzon Wine Estate is a prominent player in Stellenbosch, South Africa’s wine and agricultural industry. Owned by Appelbaum, the estate is renowned for its award-winning Chenin Blanc. Wendy oversees the production of approximately half a million bottles annually, with 85 percent exported to international markets.
- Wendy Appelbaum Foundation
Appelbaum established this foundation to address education concerns among South African women. Focusing on creating opportunities for their advancement, the foundation also provides free healthcare consultations, legal services, and supports educational initiatives. Wendy is a dedicated trustee of her father’s charitable efforts.